Jay Orr, County Executive Officer for Riverside County./CONTRIBUTED IMAGE



Published: 10 April 2012 02:07 PM

A 25-year veteran of Riverside County government has been promoted to the county’s top administrative post.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday named Jay Orr, 55, county executive officer. The vote was 4-1 in closed session with Supervisor Jeff Stone dissenting.

The appointment is contingent on a successful negotiation of Orr’s salary and benefits. Supervisors are scheduled to discuss Orr’s compensation in open session at Tuesday’s meeting, according to a county news release.

A former assistant district attorney and code enforcement director, Orr currently serves as the county’s assistant executive officer.

He replaces Bill Luna, also a county government veteran promoted from assistant executive officer.

Luna, who had been CEO since 2008, resigned in September after clashing with elected officials over the need to make budget cuts. Luna’s predecessor, Larry Parrish, came out of retirement to resume his old job until the county hired a permanent CEO.

The budget is a priority, Orr acknowledged. “It’s a great leadership challenge given where the county is at fiscally,” he said in an interview.

Orr was among six CEO candidates interviewed by supervisors behind closed doors last week. Board Chairman John Tavaglione described Orr as “a mild-mannered but very well-versed individual in terms of organizational management and leadership.”

“At this time, where we still have a number of challenges ahead of us, he is an individual who I feel will do the job to keep us on track,” Tavaglione said.

Stone, however, said he wanted a CEO hired from outside the county to bring a fresh perspective. He said he’s not sure if Orr has enough experience and that another candidate, a woman who works for one of California’s largest counties, would have brought some diversity.

Still, “I support the board’s decision,” Stone said. “I’m hoping that Jay will be able to lead this county as we continue through these challenging economic times.”

Tavaglione said Orr is “more than experienced enough to take over this job.” Orr said he looks forward to working with Stone.

Orr is poised to become CEO as the county struggles to move beyond the Great Recession. Since 2006-07, the county’s discretionary funding — the amount in the budget directly controlled by the supervisors and which funds basic services — has fallen nearly $215 million.

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